The Best Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Performance Upgrades. It’s no secret that the 3.5 EcoBoost is a powerful performance engine. The twin turbo 3.5L V6 engine is the ideal foundation for a fast, powerful Ford F-150. Many other Ford models use 3.5 EcoBoost engines. With 355-450hp, it’s a fantastic engine right out of the box. Some owners, on the other hand, want to take their twin turbo V6 engine to the next level. With a few simple 3.5 EcoBoost performance upgrades, the engine can easily reach 450-550whp. This article will go over some of the best bolt-on upgrades for the Ford 3.5 EcoBoost.
*This document applies to all 3.5L twin turbo EcoBoost engines. However, the exact fitment of these upgrades will vary by year and model. Because the engines differ, some variants of the 3.5 EcoBoost are more or less capable than others.
5 Best EcoBoost Performance Enhancements
Among the 3.5L EcoBoost performance upgrades covered in this guide are:
- Injection of Methanol
These modifications are known as full bolt-on, or FBO for short. Different people have different ideas of FBO, and some may include a full exhaust. However, the power gains from the downpipe are negligible. We’ll get into that when we get to the 3.5 EcoBoost downpipe section.
Anyway, the five upgrades listed above can truly take your Ford 3.5 EcoBoost engine to the next level. The rest of this article will go over these mods in greater detail.
EcoBoost Upgrades from Generation 1 to Generation 2
Before we get into the fun stuff, it’s important to distinguish between the Gen 1 and Gen 2 EcoBoost engines. With the second generation 3.5 EcoBoost, Ford made some excellent improvements. Several of the updates were designed to improve reliability and reduce emissions. The addition of port fuel injection, which has significant performance benefits, was one of the most noticeable changes (it still uses direct injection, too).
The dual fuel system makes it much easier to fuel the high horsepower 3.5 EcoBoost engines. Direct injection is fantastic, but it requires extremely high pressure. Upgrades to HPFP and direct injectors are expensive. It is much simpler to upgrade the 2nd generation 3.5 EcoBoost fueling system to handle a lot of power on E85. More on this later, and we’ll have a separate post about fueling mods later.
In any case, the second-generation 3.5L engine is more capable of upgrades. EWG (electronic wastegates) and lighter turbine wheels with improved angles were also added by Ford. That’s not to say the EcoBoost engines from Generation 1 are bad. However, with similar bolt-on performance upgrades, the 2nd Gen engines are typically capable of 25-50whp more.
1) Ford EcoBoost 3.5L Tuners
If you only want one 3.5 EcoBoost performance upgrade, a tune is by far our top recommendation. Tuners are the starting point for constructing a potent F-150 3.5L EcoBoost. A tune can add 50-80whp and 70-120wtq to the twin turbo EcoBoost. Excellent results for a single mod that costs around $500.
Furthermore, when adding more performance upgrades, a 3.5 EcoBoost tuner allows for greater power gains. Other mods simply won’t work as well without a proper tune to account for the changes.
Tuners are available for all of the 3.5L EcoBoost engines. Look for a tuner from a reputable, well-known manufacturer. Otherwise, which tuner is best for your F-150 is likely a matter of personal preference. One important feature to look for is a tune with excellent support for adding or changing tunes in the future. As you add more bolt-on upgrades, you’ll need an updated tune to get the most out of them.
Best EcoBoost Tuners for Ford F-150
Again, there are numerous excellent options, so this is not an exhaustive list. We believe the following are some of the best tunes for the 3.5 EcoBoost engine:
- Motorsports at Livernois
- SCT X4
- COBB Passport
The JB4 is a one-of-a-kind tuner for the 3.5 EcoBoost. It’s a piggyback tune, which is very different from a flash tune. They are, however, very common in the BMW turbo world and are excellent tunes. The JB4 allows for very simple installation and map changes on the fly. There are numerous advantages to using the JB4, but it does have some drawbacks for those looking to produce massive power (550-600+whp). We’ll go over all of this in greater detail in a future 3.5 EcoBoost tuner article.
For those looking for a flash tune, Livernois Motorsports is an excellent choice. The McCalibrator, along with their custom tuning, is available for $599.99. Typically, for that price, you get a tuner and some basic off-the-shelf tuning. They are currently the only custom-tuning company that develops all of its own hardware, software, and tunes. As a result, Livernois has a wide range of solutions to meet your requirements.
HP Gains: 50-80+whp (70-120+wtq) with 3.5 EB Tuner
2) Intake Upgrades for the Ford F-150 3.5 EcoBoost
Almost everyone is probably familiar with 3.5 EcoBoost intake performance upgrades. They are also known as cold air intakes, air filter upgrades, and so on. It’s a popular upgrade on a variety of engines and vehicles, so the 3.5L EB isn’t alone in this regard. Intakes generally offer pretty solid horsepower gains on turbo engines.
At stock boost and with modest tunes, the stock F-150 twin turbo V6 intake is efficient. However, if you start increasing power and boost too quickly, the factory intake will quickly become overwhelmed. This is especially true near the power curve’s peak. This is where 3.5 EcoBoost intake upgrades come into play.
Intakes are an excellent way to complement a tune. The more you push the EcoBoost, the more benefits an intake mod will provide. An intake may only add a couple of horsepower to a stock truck. When you start pushing the Ford 3.5 EcoBoost harder, intakes can add anywhere from 5 to 10whp.
It’s understandable that finding the right intake upgrade for your F-150 3.5 EcoBoost can be difficult. Where do you even begin with so many intake options on the market? In reality, most intakes will provide nearly identical performance.
Open vs. Closed Intakes on a 3.5L V6 Twin Turbo
We like to categorize intakes as open or closed. Open performance air intakes, as the name implies, are accessible from the engine compartment. A closed system, on the other hand, has a box/shield to protect the filter and draw in colder air. It’s a significant distinction for naturally aspirated engines. On modern turbo engines, however, it is nearly meaningless.
Because of the heat in the engine bay, an open intake will draw in slightly warmer air. The air is then forced through the turbos, which are operating at high temperatures. Furthermore, compressing air produces even more heat. To cool those high temperatures, an intercooler is installed after the turbo. The temperature of the air entering the intake filters has little to no effect on the ability of the intercooler to cool the air.
We prefer open intakes because they generally flow better and we enjoy the unfiltered turbo/induction noises. In any case, a closed intake system will provide the same or very similar performance. As a result, it really comes down to price, personal preference, and so on.
Price of 3.5 EcoBoost Intake: $300-500
HP Gains from 3.5 TT V6 Intake: 5-10whp
Best Intake Kit for Ford F-150 3.5 EcoBoost
There are numerous 3.5 EcoBoost intake kits available, as with all of these upgrades. For more information on additional intakes, see our guide above. We’re just going to talk about our favorite intake system for the 3.5L twin turbo engine: the CVF dual-filter intake. This intake, as the name implies, employs two air filters as well as a dual aluminum intake tube design.
As an open, dual intake it’s sure to provide incredible flow and power gains. Depending on the model year, it outflows the factory intake by 45-65% or more. Overall, this is an excellent, high-quality intake upgrade for the low price of $299.99. It is without a doubt our preferred 3.5 EcoBoost cold air intake.
- F-150 CVF Dual Intake Upgrade, 2012-2014
- 3.5 EcoBoost CVF Dual Filter Cold Air Intake 2015-2016
- F150 3.5 CVF Dual Filter Intake 2017-2020
3) Modifications to the Twin Turbo V6 Downpipe
Downpipe (DP) upgrades are an intriguing topic in the 3.5 V6 EcoBoost engine discussion. We were surprised to find so many threads and comments claiming that downpipes don’t provide significant performance benefits. Many BMW enthusiasts consider downpipe upgrades to be among the best basic bolt-on performance mods.
This is due to the fact that the downpipes bolt directly onto the turbochargers. It will provide more power gains on the 3.5 EcoBoost than any other component of the exhaust (except the turbos themselves). Back-pressure behind the turbos is extremely detrimental to performance. Back-pressure is worse for performance the closer it is to the turbos. Catalytic converters are bulky on stock F-150 3.5 EcoBoost DPs. Good for emissions, but not so good for the 3.5 EcoBoost’s power and performance.
Among the advantages of 3.5 EcoBoost downpipe upgrades are:
- Gains of 10-25+whp (similar torque)
- Quicker turbo spool
- Reduce back pressure
- Increased exhaust volume
The downpipe will produce more power if your tune and other 3.5 EcoBoost performance upgrades are aggressive. With a simple tune-only, you might see gains in the 10-15whp range.
If you push the stock turbos hard or run turbo upgrades, you could see gains of 20-25whp. Lowering back-pressure also helps reduce turbo spool, so the low-end torque gains are significant.
Related : The Chevy LT2 Engine Issues
Catless 3.5L EcoBoost vs High-Flow Catted DP’s
The primary goal of a Ford F-150 3.5 EcoBoost downpipe performance upgrade is to reduce back-pressure. It’s good for the twin turbos and helps reduce EGTs, among other benefits. A catless downpipe for the 3.5 EB will provide the best flow and pressure drop. As a result, it will provide the most power and torque gains. However, catless downpipes are illegal in terms of emissions, which is a major flaw.
In most states, a high-flow catted downpipe will still pass emissions testing. These parts, however, may still be considered illegal and/or fail emissions tests. They provide the same benefits as catless, but to a lesser extent. A high-flow 3.5 EcoBoost downpipe will provide approximately 5whp less than catless options.
Unfortunately, catted downpipes are typically $200-400 more expensive. We strongly recommend a catless downpipe for off-road racing applications because it provides the most bang for your buck.
The Very Best 3.5L Twin Turbo Downpipes
There are a plethora of options for F-150 3.5 EcoBoost downpipes. However, due to their legal status, catless pipes can be difficult to find from reputable brands online. For most people, the hassle of dealing with catless DPs and the headache of inspections and emissions testing is not worth it. Catless is the way to go if you’re doing serious mods like turbo upgrades. Otherwise, we recommend that you stick to high-flow options.
Having said that, CVF offers some excellent high-flow catted downpipes for EcoBoost trucks from 2011 to 2020. Their 3′′ downpipes are made of T304 stainless steel, are fully TIG welded, and are mandrel bent. They’re sure to keep your car legal for inspections and testing in almost every state with 400 cell cats. These CVF 3.5 EcoBoost downpipes cost $750, which is an excellent value for a high-quality catted option. Look no further if you’re set on catted downpipes.
HP Gains: 10-25+whp for the 3.5L V6 DP (15-30wtq)
4) FMIC Upgrades for the 3.5 V6 EcoBoost
Another great bolt-on upgrade for the F-150 3.5L twin turbo engines is a larger front mount intercooler (FMIC). At stock boost, the stock F-150 3.5 intercooler is effective. Even so, it is susceptible to heat-soak, especially when towing or performing several back-to-back pulls.
Increasing boost with a tune and other mods will exacerbate heat-soak. When this occurs, the turbos become so hot that the intercooler is unable to effectively cool the charge air. Larger FMIC upgrades for the 3.5 EcoBoost are an easy fix. Cooler air is obviously beneficial to performance and power. FMIC mods have several other advantages:
- Gains of 10-20 watts
- Performance that is consistent
- Reduced likelihood of engine knock
The main advantage of 3.5 EcoBoost intercooler performance upgrades is consistent performance. Have you ever noticed how much weaker your turbo engine feels after a few times of flooring it? That’s heat soak at work, and the engine’s performance will begin to suffer as a result of the high temperatures. Power gains of 5-10whp are possible on glory runs.
However, after multiple pulls an FMIC will likely save your EcoBoost from losing power. Cooler temperatures also reduce the possibility of engine knock, which is beneficial to engine health at higher than stock boost levels.
Upgrades for the Ford 3.5L V6 FMIC
The following are some excellent front mount intercooler upgrades for the 3.5 EcoBoost:
- Titan CVF Intercooler (2015-2020)
- Atlas CVF FMIC (2011-2014)
- Intercooler by Livernois Motorsports
- Wagner Tuning Performance FMIC
As with most other 3.5 EcoBoost upgrades, there are numerous excellent options available. There is a lot that goes into FMIC upgrades, but surface area is a big one. Look for a reputable company that sells a larger-than-stock intercooler. We’ll go over 3.5 EcoBoost FMICs in more detail in a separate post soon.
Anyway, CVF is once again at the top of our list of favorite 3.5 EcoBoost intercoolers. We truly believe they provide an unrivaled combination of price, quality, and performance. To maximize cooling, these FMICs have a large surface area and volume. The CVF FMICs are an excellent choice due to their high-flow cast end tanks and TIG welded bar-and-plate construction.
Livernois is another excellent option that costs only $699.99 and is designed, tested, and manufactured in the United States. If you’re willing to pay a little more for quality American-made products, look no further than Livernois.
HP Gains: 10-20whp on a 3.5 TT V6 FMIC (consistent performance, prevents power loss)
5) Methanol Injection Ford 3.5 EB
Alright. We’ll get to this topic quickly. We wouldn’t recommend methanol injection as a first-time mod. Before moving on to methanol injection, it’s a good idea to gain some more knowledge and experience with simple bolt-ons (also known as water-methanol injection).
The four upgrades listed above will take your Ford 3.5 EcoBoost to the next level, easily producing 450-500whp. To go much further, you’ll need to use higher quality fuel than 91 or 93 octane pump gas. We prefer E85 over methanol injection. However, E85 places far more strain and demand on the fuel system than methanol does.
Methanol is a highly flammable fuel with a high octane rating. It is an independent system that does not rely on standard fuel pumps or injectors. As a result, when the stock fuel system is exhausted, methanol can come to the rescue. The amount of power gained is determined by how heavily you intend to rely on water-methanol injection (WMI). Aggressive F-150 3.5 EcoBoost methanol injection setups, on the other hand, can produce 40-60whp. A lot more power is also possible.
WMI can be complicated, and there is a lot to learn. We’ll go over this in greater detail in a separate WMI guide in the near future.
Ford 3.5 EcoBoost Performance Enhancements Summary
The Ford 3.5L EcoBoost, like many turbo engines, leaves a lot of power and performance on the table. The engine and turbos are designed to handle significantly more power than the 3.5 provides stock. A few simple bolt-on mods can truly elevate the 3.5 EcoBoost. These modifications can push the 3.5 twin turbo V6 engine to 500+whp.
Tuners are an excellent place to start because they provide the most bang for your buck. A tune not only provides significant gains, but it also allows you to extract more power from additional 3.5 EcoBoost performance upgrades. Following that, intakes are a great mod to pair with a tune to help with the increased air flow.
Then there are downpipes, which we consider to be one of the best performance upgrades for the 3.5 EcoBoost. They provide numerous benefits and substantial power gains for the price. FMICs are another excellent mod for improving consistency and preventing power loss due to heat-soak. These modifications can boost the Ford 3.5L V6 to 500+whp.
Those looking to go even further should consider E85 or methanol injection as fueling options. This gets a little more complicated, but we’ll have in-depth guides available in the future. Anyway, the 3.5 EcoBoost engine in the F-150 is a truly incredible engine capable of insane performance with some basic upgrades.